Marijuana Activists Light Up In Front Of White House

By McCarton Ackerman 04/05/16

Pro-marijuana protesters staged a smoke-in at 4:20pm in front of the White House to protest Obama's "disinterest" in descheduling marijuana. 

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Marijuana Activists Light Up In Front Of White House for Reclassification
Protesters picketing in front of the White House on Saturday afternoon. photo viaRena Schild/Shutterstock

Hundreds of cannabis legalization supporters gathered in front of the White House last Saturday for a smoke-in, with a message for President Obama: deschedule pot. 

The event, led by Washington, D.C.-based marijuana group DCMJ, fittingly took place at 4:20 in the afternoon in Lafayette Square park, across the street from the White House. The protestors wielded a 51-foot joint with the message, “Obama, deschedule cannabis now!” Authorities initially refused to let the massive inflatable joint into the park, but activists got around it by smuggling the prop in deflated and then inflating it in the park.

The demonstration was followed by a march through downtown and concluded with several protestors standing inside a giant mock jail cell to protest the incarceration of pot smokers. A sign above the faux cell said, “Jail Is Not A Drug Policy.”

Although local law enforcement didn’t condone the event, they also didn’t do much to stop it. Officers on motorcycles who escorted marchers didn’t make any arrests, though many demonstrators were openly smoking, and only issued a handful of citations for those who lit up in Lafayette Square. Despite the fact that recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington, D.C., it’s still illegal to smoke in public or on federal land under any circumstances.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug on the Drug Enforcement Administration's "most dangerous drugs" list. Schedule I drugs, which also include heroin and LSD, are defined as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical benefits. Advocates say removing cannabis from Schedule I would have a huge positive impact, and not just in terms of the reforming criminal justice system.

Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar at the Cato Institute, said that placing marijuana in Schedule III would allow convicted users to have access to public housing and student loans, and allow pot businesses to deduct business expenses in states where it’s legal.

"The only harm that [legalization] would cause would be to the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies," Sandra, a D.C.-based marijuana grower who was at the rally, told the Huffington Post. She uses cannabis for arthritis, sciatica and depression. "There are so many medications I don’t have to take because I smoke marijuana."

In November, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would end federal pot prohibition and remove marijuana from drug scheduling altogether. 

Apparently the smoke-in was so successful that DCMJ decided to return to the White House on April 16 for a weed share and cannabis summit where growers and advocates will be able to legally share marijuana seeds, buds, and trimmings. 

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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